Den Haan Rotterdam

On this page, you will find the history of Den Haan Rotterdam.

For more information about ship light  Manufacturers, please visit The Manufacturers page:

Den Haan Rotterdam has been active in the production and sale of ship lamps since 1922 and is still doing so today, almost 100 years later. It is exceptional that after all these years, this company is still a family business; the fourth generation is now working within DHR.

A nice anecdote is that Industria Rotterdam, Den Haan Rotterdam jokingly called that tinsmith who also made some ship lanterns. Nevertheless, Den Haan Rotterdam has been doing this for almost 100 years, which is an achievement if you look at the developments and competition from the Far East.

The early years

Den Haan Rotterdam was founded on August 7, 1922 by Marinus den Haan. They were then located at the Zalmhaven in Rotterdam. They were active as tinsmiths, with a focus on articles used on boats and ships. The first ship lamps were also produced after a few years.
Marinus den Haan started with two employees and grew steadily. They survived the global crisis well, and by 1936 there were already 16 employees. The workshop was only very cramped; it was only 65 square meters. In 1936, Marinus's son, Marinus jr. den Haan and Cees den Haan also joined the company.

The war

On May 14, 1940, Rotterdam was bombed, and the house and workshop on the Zalmkade were also destroyed.
The two brothers did not give up, and two days later (!) they found a small workshop on the Westzeedijk. They worked with two older workers, mainly on small oil lamps, pans, and small ovens.
After the Second World War, skilled employees were added, and the company continued where it had stopped at the time of the war.

The years after the war

Marius Jr. took over the company after the founder Marius den Haan passed away. Cees den Haan also came (again) to work at Den Haan Rotterdam as a board member. In those years, the challenge was finding skilled workers, and they started a learning program for students. This was only a lengthy process, which was not the solution in the short term. The key to the lack of staffing was, therefore, mechanization. To realize this mechanization, a more extensive workshop was needed, and in the early 1950s, a new workshop of 450 square meters was built on Hoornbrekersstraat.

Export and decorative ship lamps

The need for ship lighting continued to grow, and Den Haan Rotterdam also started exporting ship lamps to the rest of Europe, America, and Canada in the 1960s. In these years, ship lamps for decorative use were also marketed, which was a resounding success. Partly because of this, the workshop became too small again, and they had a new factory-built. In 1962 a new factory was built at the Wijnhaven of 3150 square meters.
In these years, the sale of ship lamps was half for decorative purposes and a half for navigation lights.
The decorative ship lamps could not be dragged on.

The growth continues

In the early 1960s, Den Haan Rotterdam introduced the well-known DHR logo, which is still used today. Due to its high quality and strong reputation, Den Haan Rotterdam exported to over 50 countries.
In these years, regular companies tried to imitate ship lamps, but without success due to the many patents and registered models.
In those years, sales in the Netherlands went entirely to shops and wholesalers. Many sales channels were created by participating in trade fairs for water sports and commercial shipping. Due to the growing prosperity in Europe, water sports also grew exponentially, and Den Haan Rotterdam has responded to this with its navigation lights.

Change of rules and materials

Because it was becoming increasingly crowded on the water, a worldwide intervention was launched in 1970, in which new rules and guidelines were developed for, among other things, navigation lighting. Visibility had to be increased, and the construction was precisely defined.
These rules were enacted in 1976 for seagoing vessels and in 1984 for inland vessels. Adapting the existing navigation lighting to the new standard was almost impossible and a big challenge.
During this time, it was decided to move away from metal and produce navigation lights in plastic. This was a good choice; as a result, Den Haan Rotterdam continued to grow. This choice probably also contributed to the fact that the company is still active.
Den Haan Rotterdam launched three types of navigation lighting in those years for seagoing vessels, inland vessels, and water sports purposes. This was very successful, the number of employees had now risen to 60, but despite this, they had great difficulty filling the demand. There was also a demand for navigation lights from the Middle and the Far East.
In 1979 Den Haan Rotterdam felt more or less compelled to let its last Dutch competitor, P.J. van den Bosch, which continued to use its name until 1983 on the lamps produced there.
After extensive testing by the Royal Dutch Navy, the Den Haan Rotterdam lanterns were accepted, and all government ships were required to install DHR navigation lights. DHR also designed a navigation light suitable for submarines, which some foreign governments also purchased.

KNMI, searchlights and management change

Marinus den Haan Sr. retired in 1984 and Cees den Haan Sr. in 1987 as board members, but they remained active in the company for years. Their two sons, who had worked in the company for years, became directors.
In 1988 they closed the KNMI department responsible for certifying compasses, navigation lights, and other instruments. For DHR, this meant testing and certifying all their lanterns themselves. To this end, all necessary photometric test equipment was ordered on the government's advice, and regular checks by the shipping inspectorate were tried out.
DHR has been producing two types of searchlights for the yachting industry for years. After commissioning the test room, it also became beneficial for testing newly developed products. When the head of photometric testing was hired, it became the Research and Development Department. This resulted in the development of a new searchlight for inland shipping. This year, DHR partnered with Norselight to bring to the market a complete line of searchlights for marine and inland navigation.
Cees den Haan stepped down as director at the end of 1993, and his cousin, Mario den Haan, took over the shares of his company.
The holding and business management were sold to Mario den Haan, who became the complete owner of Metaalwarenfabriek Den Haan Rotterdam.
In the years that followed, DHR took over the inventory and machines from Brökelmann Jaeger Busse, where the 20″ Ideal burners were produced. In addition, the production of Burtone air horns was also taken over, and after extensive testing, these air horns were also TNO approved. The sale was also successful, partly due to the approval.


The factory was modernized in the years that followed, and the ISO certificate was obtained. The company Zeekro, active in searchlights for 50 years, was also taken over. A move again seemed necessary, but a project developer who let it know has built an office on top of the workshop, and the offices have been upgraded.
In 2002 a new series of navigation lights were introduced. Due to very detailed drawings and reports from recognized institutes such as KEMA and TNO, approvals by foreign inspection bodies follow shortly afterward. The Zeekro searchlights have been adapted and marketed according to CE guidelines.
In 2008, DHR moved to Capelle on the IJssel, where the company was given 5000 square meters for the factories and offices.
After all these years, Den Haan Rotterdam is still strong in navigation lighting, decorative ship lamps, searchlights, and air horns.

The images have been used after approval from Den Haan Rotterdam, they may not be used without express permission from Den Haan Rotterdam.